Put the “Pro” in Professional with an ePortfolio
Written by Chris Pasion, graduate assistant to The Graduate School.
One of the most important aspects of the job search is knowing how to market yourself well. Most jobs will have you submit a resume and cover letter at the very least, but a personal website – in this case, an ePortfolio – can help you stand out from the crowd and show the people reviewing your materials a bit more of your experience and personality.
Why Do You Need an ePortfolio?
ePortfolios give you the opportunity to showcase your work in a different way than on your resume. It will have the same basic information on it, but you will be able to go more in-depth on each project you’ve worked on, illustrate your work experience with more detail, and showcase yourself in a more visual way than on the resume or cover letter. Employers can have a lot of candidates to review when they’re hiring someone new, so you want to be sure that they remember you and have a face to put with your name. ePortfolios are a great way to make this happen.
Where Do You Start?
The nice thing about creating a website for yourself is that you can make it look however you want. To get started, it can be helpful to create a wireframe, which is essentially a map of your website, to organize each webpage before you start building out the website online. There are a few basic things you’ll want to include on your site, and each of the them should get its own full webpage:
- About me
- Professional work
- Academic work
- Contact information
You can also include creative interests or personal pursuits if you think they would be relevant to your prospective job or if they would help tell employers more about you. Also be sure to include a few nice photos of yourself throughout the site, so they have a face to go with your name.
No matter what kind of job you're interested in, remember that this ePortfolio is an extension of your resume, meaning that it is not a static resource. Each time you accomplish something that could further your job search prospects, you should update your ePortfolio.
How Do You Put it Together?
Unless you’re a tech guru and plan to build your website from scratch using code, you’ll probably want to use an online web builder. Each of the following web builders will allow you to start using a theme, which gives your website a base template and aesthetic.
With the exception of Squarespace, each of these web builders can be used for free (although you’ll have to pay to have your own customized domain and make the site ad-free). Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace are all drag-and-drop platforms, which makes them very user friendly. WordPress will give you the most flexibility and customization, but it will take a bit more effort to learn how to use. YouTube and LinkedIn Learning each have great tutorials for getting started.
After you’ve built out the website, you’ll want to get feedback on it. Pass it off to someone whose opinion you trust and who will do a good job user testing it. If you don't have anyone for this, the Academic Writing Center and the Career Studio both have experts who review materials like this and would be happy to help out. Your website reviewer should ask questions such as: Does the website flow well? Is the resume up to date? Does the form on your contact page work? The insight you get from their feedback can be great for helping you find things you might have overlooked before, so definitely don’t skip this step.
After you’ve got a polished website, the last thing to do is promote it! Be sure to link to it on your resume, LinkedIn page, in your email signature, and anywhere else you think it might be useful.